Monday, May 13, 2013

NO! Harry no! Don't look at the light!

Saturday was a good day for working on cars except that it is starting to get hot and I didn't want to wear pants. I'm sure if I actually took them off, a few seconds of grinding or welding would have convinced me otherwise. I really shouldn't even complain, the weather here is so temperate I could work outside in the middle of January and my hands would never even go numb.

The first order of business was to tie some loose ends together on the generator and make an adapter cord for the welder, so I headed down to Home Depot for heavy gauge wire and 220V plugs. I've wired a couple engines, but when it comes to residential or industrial welding I have no clue what is going on, so that step took way longer than it should have, but we got it all buttoned up and ready to go. Once again, I turned the welder over to Vaughn's more experienced hands since I consider the suspension to be a rather critical part of a car. We fired up the generator in a small cloud of uncatalyzed, unfiltered diesel smoke (I dedicate that smoke cloud to C.A.R.B) and got to work.
The ancient behemoth that powered my welder. Thanks, Vaughn's friend!

First we had to finish the reinforcement plates that went on the frame rails. With the new welder hooked to the generator, there was a lot more power. Almost too much in fact. We had to put the welder on it's lowest setting to avoid blowing through the 16 gauge frame rail steel. The reinforcements took some time, but soon enough we were ready to install the crossmember.

 It took only a small amount of grinding to fit the crossmember after which we pushed it up into place with a floor jack. Locating holes and alignment plates are designed into the kit, so installation requires minimal measuring.
Crossmember pushed up against the alignment plate. 
Lifting the crossmember into place.
Pretty good work for a crosseyed redneck who lives on Mt Dew and cereal.
After the crossmember was welded in, it was time for the spring mounts. This was some thicker metal which actually made for easier welding now that we had all the power we needed and a little extra to spare.

With all the welding done, it was smooth sailing from that point on. It was now just a matter of turning some wrenches. First up was the lower control arm and coilover shock assembly.

Then came the upper control arm. In the picture below you can see the alignment system. Adding more washers between the A-arm and the mount will decrease negative camber angle, and loosening the bolts to slide the A-arm rearward will increase caster angle.

A simple yet elegant alignment system.

After I started to cycle the suspension, I noticed that the spring mounts were contacting the upper ball joint cup when the suspension was at full extension, or the unloaded position.

I had to do a little grinding to create clearance between the two surfaces. With that out of the way, I bolted up the spindles which already had the brake rotors and calipers attached.

She's starting to look like a real car again!
Ooooooh shiny...
Once I had both sides together, I installed the steering rack. I chose a power steering rack on this project because it will be a touring car so I want it to be comfortable with a quick steering ratio. I also wanted to be able to run a large caster angle for high speed stability without requiring unreasonable steering effort.

Enough wide open spaces to house at least 3 Dixie Chicks.
With the front suspension completely assembled, I can now test fit wheels and tires to determine what size tire I can fit under the front of this car. Additionally, I need to connect the steering shaft so that I once again have a rolling chassis as soon as I get wheels on this car.


  1. I like the Dixie Chicks comment. That was funny.

  2. I have 2 unopened cans of POR15 left if you want them. Sounded like you're calling this assembled even though I see a ton of bare metal.

  3. of course, if you treat this entirely opposite of how i treated the bug, then good-on-ya, because you'll actually get to drive your project pretty soon by the looks of things.

  4. I'm trying to decide whether I should clear coat the raw or paint the suspension and engine bay in semigloss black. Thoughts?

  5. Paint it black. Use a wire cup on your fancy new grinder, then some etching primer and coat over with black. While clear would look kinda cool I think it may not hold up very well.

  6. what type of cross member/ suspension did you buy for it? Also, what wheels are those... Found your page through searching carports?!?! feeling lucky today LOL Nacho

    1. The suspension is made by TCI suspension, and the wheels are made by Black Rock. Warning - they are really heavy. They are intended for off road Jeeps.